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Series Preview: New York Mets vs Washington Nationals

The Mets come to town for a three-game series. Wear your red, and cheer loudly.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals and the New York Mets avoided each other for the first month and a half of the season, finally meeting for the first time of 2016 in New York last week.

The Nationals, after finishing a successful 2-1 series at Citi Field on Thursday, will now see the Mets for another three- game set, the second series the two have played in the last seven days. Go figure.

Bartolo Colon will face the Nationals on Monday, exactly five days after the Nationals knocked him out of the game early, scoring three runs in 4.2 innings after Colon allowed five hits and five walks.

After Colon on Monday night, the struggling Matt Harvey will pitch on Tuesday, much to the dismay of many Mets fans.

Harvey struggled against the Nats last Thursday, and was unable to make it out of the second inning, after allowing nine runs (six earned) and eight hits, as well as two walks.

Bryce Harper sympathized with the Mets' big righty after the game.

"I feel bad for him," said Harper, as quoted by Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated. "He comes off the mound and gets booed, and he's one of the best in baseball."

"I think that goes back to, he had surgery last year, and he forced 230 innings."

For Wednesday's game, Steven Matz will pitch for the Mets, his second game after returning from an injury that many believed would require Tommy John surgery. (It obviously did not).

On Monday night, the Nationals will send out Gio Gonzalez to the mound, coming off of a successful game against the Mets last Tuesday.

"Gio continues to be one of our best pitchers," Dusty Baker noted after Gonzalez went six innings and only allowed one run. "He's throwing the ball good, good changeup, good breaking ball, good tempo."

Gonzalez's continued success this season can be attributed to a few things - a calmer mindset and coaching from pitching coach Mike Maddux - but most notably, Gonzalez has taken some velocity off of his pitches, and thus far, it's working wonders for him.

"Everybody loves velocity, but velocity with poor command is no good. So, you've got to have command and throw the ball where you want to throw it." Baker said. "I don't really worry about velocity unless I look at the board up there and you see he's had a dramatic drop during the game."

On Tuesday, Stephen Strasburg, also coming off of a great start in New York, will pitch against the Mets again.

Strasburg only allowed one run, but his pitch count proved to be his own worst enemy, as Dusty Baker saw he needed to be pulled after six with such a high count (113).

"Stras struggled a little bit, his pitch count got up," Dusty Baker noted at the postgame press conference last Thursday.

"We were hoping he could go seven, but when he got to the point where we saw he was only going to go six, then we tried to piecemeal it together through the rest of the game."

On Wednesday night, Tanner Roark will match up against Steven Matz. Roark accomplished a feat he had been unable to complete all season long on Friday night, defeating the Miami Marlins.

The Nationals believed that Roark's problem with the Marlins was that he was tipping off his pitches, and Miami had figured out how to read him.

"It was a little minor adjustment that I did, and it worked," Roark said after pitching 6.2 one-run innings. "I would do certain things on certain pitches, so I made an adjustment, and it worked out."

Offensively, the Mets were unable to pack a punch against the Nationals in their last series, only scoring four runs in three games, but New York's offense has been streaky this year, and against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, the Mets were on a good type of streak, scoring eleven runs in a three-game sweep.

The Nationals are also seemingly on the offensive upswing, starting with Ben Revere.

Revere, who struggled to get back into a groove after missing the first month of the season, enjoyed a great weekend against the Marlins, going 5-9 on Saturday and Sunday.

"Feels good right now, I can do something to try and help the team out," Revere told Dan Kolko in an interview after three hits on Sunday.

"Just gotta get a rhythm back - there are a lot more at bats the rest of the year, just trying to take it one at bat at a time."

Revere also stole two bases on Sunday, after struggling with the task earlier this month.

"I needed to get in shape, because I haven't been on base the past couple weeks, but today was good, to get a couple SBs on there," Revere noted. "[Dusty] said he wanted me to be aggressive, so I'm trying to get my legs under me so I can do just that."

"Revere's walk-up song is 'Ignition', and that's what he is, he's our igniter. We tell Ben as he goes, we go," Dusty said.

"And so, it's great to see him getting on, but you know he's going to get on sooner or later... because you know this guy, he's been hitting his whole life."

Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth have also both been thriving recently, especially since Dusty Baker switched them around in the lineup, putting Werth second in the order behind Revere, and Rendon sixth behind Ryan Zimmerman.

"Jayson, it seems like he has a new life. He hit some balls a ton," Baker told the press on May 20th, which also happened to be Werth's birthday.

"I told him maybe he's getting younger on his birthday. So, Happy Birthday, Jayson."

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday against the Marlins, Rendon hit .500, going 5-10 and driving in two runs.

"You see guys like Anthony driving in runs, that makes you feel good, and the guys are saying, hey, man, this is the Anthony that they know," Baker told the press after the Nationals finished off their series against the Mets.

The Mets will come to town hot after sweeping the Brewers, but the Nationals will return home hot as well after their series win against the Marlins.

The two teams are still very evenly matched, but the Nationals will catch the weaker side of the Mets' rotation in Colon and Harvey, unless both have figured out some of the issues that have been plaguing them in the last few weeks.

It would not be crazy to expect the Nationals to do well, at least in the first two games of the series, but considering New York's streaky offense, and knowing the way things happened with the two last year, sometimes expecting the unexpected is a wise choice when the Nationals and the Mets meet.

What to watch for at Nationals Park

Gio Gonzalez, certified Met killer
Gonzalez, in 107.2 career innings against the Metropolitans, has a 2.59 ERA against them.

Yoenis Cespedes likes playing the Nationals
Why? Cespedes, in his career, has hit .306 with nine RBI against the Nationals. And get this - the Cuban outfielder, in only three career games at Nationals Park, is a .429 hitter with seven RBI. Of course, those three games did come in that magical September for the Mets, but even so.

Bryce looks to get the homer train back on track
Harper has fourteen career home runs against the Mets, one of which is off of Bartolo Colon. If Harper can somehow get a pitch to hit, maybe we'll see his first tater in a while.

Monday, May 23rd: Mets vs Nationals - 7:05 PM (MASN, WJFK) (Scherzer no-hitter bobbleheads!)
Probable Pitchers: Bartolo Colon (3-3, 3.75 ERA) vs Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 1.86 ERA)

Tuesday, May 24th: Mets vs Nationals - 7:05 PM (MASN, WJFK)
Probable Pitchers: Matt Harvey (3-6, 5.77 ERA) vs Stephen Strasburg (7-0, 2.80 ERA)

Wednesday, May 25th: Mets vs Nationals - 1:05 PM (MASN, MLB Network, WJFK)
Probable Pitchers: Steven Matz (6-1, 2.81 ERA) vs Tanner Roark (3-3, 2.89 ERA)